Secrets management

The Kubernetes declarative model requires that you develop applications with manifest files or command line interactions with the Kubernetes API. These workflows expose your sensitive information in your application code and shell history, which compromises your application security.

To mitigate any security risks, Kubernetes uses the concept of a secret to store this sensitive information. A secret is an object with a plain text name and a value stored as a base64 encoded string. When you reference a secret by name, Kubernetes retrieves and decodes its value. This lets you openly reference confidential information in your application code and shell without compromising your data.

Kubernetes supports secret workflows with its native Secret object, and cloud providers offer solutions that store your confidential information in a centralized location for easy management. By default, Vertica on Kubernetes supports native Secrets objects, and it also supports cloud solutions so that you have options for storing your confidential data.

For best practices about handling confidential data in Kubernetes, see the Kubernetes documentation.

Manually encode data

In some circumstances, you might need to manually base64 encode your secret value and add it to a Secret manifest or a cloud service secret manager. You can base64 encode data with tools available in your shell. For example, pass the string value to the echo command, and pipe the output to the base64 command to encode the value. In the echo command, include the -n option so that it does not append a newline character:

$ echo -n 'secret-value' | base64

You can take the output of this command and add it to a Secret manifest or cloud service secret manager.

Kubernetes Secrets

A Secret is an Kubernetes object that you can reference by name that conceals confidential data in a base64 encoded string. For example, you can create a Secret named su-password that stores the database superuser password. In a manifest file, you can add su-password in place of the literal password value, and then you can safely store the manifest in a file system or pass it on the command line.

The idiomatic way to create a Secret in Kubernetes is with the kubectl command-line tool's create secret command, which provides options to create Secret object from various data sources. For example, the following command creates a Secret named superuser-password from a literal value passed on the command line:

$ kubectl create secret generic superuser-password \
secret/superuser-password created

Instead of creating a Kubernetes Secret with kubectl, you can manually base64 encode a string on the command line, and then add the encoded output to a Secrets manifest.

Cloud providers

Cloud providers offer services that let you store sensitive information in a central location and reference it securely. Vertica on Kubernetes requires a specific format for secrets stored in cloud providers. In addition, each cloud provider requires unique configuration before you can add a secret to your VerticaDB custom resource (CR).

The following VerticaDB CR parameters accept secrets from cloud services:

  • communal.credentialSecret
  • nmaTLSSecret
  • passwordSecret

Format requirements

Cloud provider secrets consist of a name and a secret value. To provide flexibility, cloud services let you store the value in a variety of formats. Vertica on Kubernetes requires that you format the secret value as a JSON document consisting of plain text string keys and base64 encoded values. For example, you might have a secret named tlsSecrets whose value is a JSON document in the following format:

  "ca.crt": "base64-endcoded-ca.crt",
  "tls.crt" "base64-endcoded-tls.crt",
  "tls.key": "base64-endcoded-tls.key",
  "password": "base64-endcoded-password"

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides the AWS Secrets Manager, a storage system for your sensitive data. To access secrets from your AWS console, go to Services > Security, Identity, & Compliance > Secrets Manager.

IAM permissions

Before you can add a secret to a CR, you must grant the following permissions to the VerticaDB operator pod and the Vertica server pods so they can access AWS Secret Manager. You can grant these permissions to the worker node's IAM policy or the IAM roles for service account (IRSA):

For instructions about adding permissions to an AWS Secrets Manager secret, see the AWS documentation. For details about Vertica on Kubernetes and AWS IRSA, see Configuring communal storage.

Adding a secret to a CR

AWS stores secrets with metadata that describe and track changes to the secret. An important piece of metadata is the Amazon Resource Name (ARN), a unique identifier for the secret. The ARN uses the following format:


To use an AWS secret in a CR, you have to add the ARN to the applicable CR parameter and prefix it with awssm://. For example:

      passwordSecret: awssm://arn:aws:secretsmanager:region:account-id:secret:myPasswordSecret-randomChars
      nmaTLSSecret: awssm://arn:aws:secretsmanager:region:account-id:secret:myNmaTLSSecret-randomChars
        credentialSecret: awssm://arn:aws:secretsmanager:region:account-id:secret:myCredentialSecret-randomChars
        path: s3://bucket-name/key-name

Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud provides Google Secret Manager, a storage system for your sensitive data. To access your secrets from your Google Cloud console, go to Security > Secret Manager.

When you pass a Google secret as a CRD parameter, use the secret's resource name. The resource name uses the following format:


To use a Secret Manager secret in a CR, you have to add the resource name to the applicable CR parameter and prefix it with gsm://. For example:

      passwordSecret: gsm://projects/project-id/secrets/password-secret/versions/version-number
      nmaTLSSecret: gsm://projects/project-id/secrets/nma-certs-secret/versions/version-number
        credentialSecret: gsm://projects/project-id/secrets/gcp-creds-secret/versions/version-number
        path: gs://bucket-name/path/to/database-name